Access Opera: Rigoletto

Welcome to the Rigoletto Education Resources page!

Rigoletto
by Giuseppe Verdi

NOTE – A redemption code is required to open the Access Opera: Rigoletto PowerPoint. Email derck@austinopera.org to request your redemption code.

Austin Opera’s Access Opera: Rigoletto curriculum is an innovative multi-media based unit, complete with TEKS aligned lessons, activities, assessments and an Animated Listening Map. This curriculum is designed so you can teach Rigoletto in the time frame that works best for you and your students. Designate an entire class period and share the complete lesson using the accompanying PowerPoint. Teach it in shorter sections.  Here is what that might look like:

  • Day 1 – Background (composer info, synopsis) and first listen of featured music selection
  • Day 2 – Listen a 2nd time, including suggested activities/assessments from the lesson
  • Day 3 & beyond – Listen to some of the alternate versions; try a new activity/assessment; explore SEL connections; Go over Audience Etiquette materials

ABOUT THE STORY

Rigoletto – Synopsis of story

Rigoletto: At a Glance

Rigoletto Facts for Kids | KidzSearch.com

Rigoletto – The Opera 101
The Opera 101 website is a great resource, including nice descriptions of the characters, a thorough synopsis, audio & video examples, history of Verdi and the opera, as well as an online QUIZ.

Rigoletto | Kids.net.au

Rigoletto: Great Music, Some Unpleasant Characters and a Tragedy

Rigoletto | Wikipedia.com

Learning to Love Opera: Rigoletto
“ …Rigoletto never fails to move even the most experienced operagoer with the freshness of its music and a story that is both accessible and psychologically complex.” This article from The Atlantic shares an easy to follow synopsis of the characters and story, as well as engaging the reader in the “experience” of opera as an artform.

AUDIO & VIDEO RESOURCES

Verdi’s Rigoletto in 3 Minutes
This audio broadcast from WQXR tells the story of Rigoletto in three minutes, with short music excerpts.

Getting to Know the Music of Rigoletto

Musical Secrets of Verdi’s opera – RIGOLETTO
Conductor Alexander Joel shares some great insights into how various instruments in the orchestra are used to depict the characters in Rigoletto.

“Prelude”

“Prelude”
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, 1971 (2:21)

“Prelude”
In this video, you can see the orchestra in the pit as they perform the opening music for the opera. (2:34)

“Caro nome”
In this aria, we find Gilda, an innocent young girl who has fallen in love with a man she met at church (the Duke, disguised as a student). Gilda’s nervous excitement and longing for the handsome fellow can is depicted beautifully with trills, vocal ornaments and descending melodic steps.

“Caro nome” – Lyrics & Translation

“Caro nome” – Madison Leonard, soprano
Listen to Austin Opera’s Gilda, Madison Leonard, as she sings an excerpt from this aria.(1:46)

“Caro nome” – Madison Leonard, soprano
Austin Opera Soprano Madison Leonard makes her role debut at Seattle Opera as Rigoletto’s naïve daughter Gilda in an updated production of Rigoletto. In one of Verdi’s most tender arias, she sighs the name of her first love after a clandestine meeting. (1:03)

“Caro nome” – Nadine Sierra, soprano
Nadine Sierra sings Gilda’s aria from Act I of Verdi’s “Rigoletto” at the final stage rehearsal. Production: Michael Mayer. Conductor: Roberto Abbado. 2015–16 season.

“Caro nome” – Maria Callas, soprano
(7:34)

“Caro nome” – Natalie Dessay, soprano
(6:48)

“Caro nome” – Dame Joan Sutherland, soprano
(6:20)

“La donna è mobile” (Woman is fickle)

The Duke of Mantua sings this aria as he is flirting with Maddalena, the sister of the assassin, Sparafucile.

“La donna è mobile” Lyrics and translation

“La donna è mobile”Luciano Pavarotti
An excerpt from Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s classic film of Verdi’s dark tragedy featuring the legendary Luciano Pavarotti as the dashing Duke of Mantua.

“La donna è mobile”Luciano Pavarotti
A very young Pavarotti sings this famous aria with piano, Moscow, 1964 (3:16)

“La donna è mobile” – Andrea Bocelli
(2:34)

“La donna è mobile” – The Three Tenors in Concert 1994

“La donna è mobile” – Enrico Caruso
(2:25)

“La donna è mobile” – Juan Diego Florez
Juan Diego Florez in concert with Conductor Gustavo Dudamel at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2010 (3:57)

“Bella figlia dell’amore” (Beautiful daughter of love)

This piece has been described as a “masterful quartet that is an intricate musical depiction of four personalities and their overlapping agendas”. In this scene, which occurs near the end of the opera, the Duke of Mantua (tenor), is openly wooing Maddalena (mezzo soprano), who is flirting with him. Rigoletto (baritone) has arranged for his daughter Gilda (soprano) to spy on the Duke with him, as he himself is filled with hatred for the Duke.

“Bella figlia dell’amore” Lyrics and translation

“Bella figlia dell’amore”
An older (and kid friendly) video of the famous vocal quartet from Act 3 of Verdi’s Rigoletto. Duke-Andre Turp; Huguette Tourangeau-Maddalena; Joan Sutherland-Gilda; Pieter Van Der Stolk-Rigoletto

“Bella figlia dell’amore”
One of the best recordings of this quartet! NOTE – Maddalena’s costume is revealing.
Duke-Luciano Pavarotti; Gilda-Joan Sutherland; Rigoletto-Leo Nucci; Maddalena-Isola Jones

PRIMER | A Guide to Getting Ready for Verdi’s Rigoletto

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Metropolitan Opera Education Guide: Rigoletto
The activities in this guide address several aspects of Rigoletto:
• The bond between daughter and father at the heart of this tragedy
• Verdi’s skill at delineating complex characters through music
• Key terms whose deployment adds depth to the libretto

Minnesota Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto

Boston Lyric Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto

This guide includes excerpts from the libretto. Go to page 31 and follow the libretto for the final scene of the opera as you listen to this recording of Robert Merrill (Rigoletto) and Roberta Peters (Gilda).
Recording of “Egli e la morto

Canadian Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto
This document has a wonderful LISTENING GUIDE, focusing on specific musical excerpts. Each excerpt includes the CONNECTION TO THE STORY, the MUSICAL SIGNIFICANCE, and FURTHER REFLECTION.
Go to the Audio & Video Resources tab to find examples of these musical selections.

Arizona Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto
Looking for a Shakespearean connection to the opera? Check out page 13 of this study guide.

Manitoba Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto
Go to page 15 to find an interesting history and description of the Court Jester.

Florida Grand Opera Study Guide: Rigoletto
This study guide includes some great cultural connections and historical context for the story of the opera, including the historical figure King Francis I and Victor Hugo’s book Le Roi S’amuse, Verdi’s inspiration for the opera.

Ten Easy Ways to Get Kids Into Opera

EXTENSION ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS

Here are some ideas for extension activities as you learn about and explore the opera Rigoletto.

  1. Write a different ending for the opera.
  2. Write a letter from one character to another.
  3. Divide into small groups. Have each group write the story from the point of view of a different character.
  4. Write a prequel to the opera, focusing on Rigoletto’s early years.
  5. Role play interviews with various characters in the story.
  6. Write an entry for an advice column (“Dear Abby letter”), and a response.
  7. How is class indicated by the music, costumes and other elements in Rigoletto?
  8. Pick another time period in which to set Rigoletto. Design sets and costumes to reflect the trends or society of that time.
  9. Act out how Rigoletto and The Duke of Mantua would walk. What are the differences?
  10. Create a fake TWITTER feed for one of the characters in the opera.
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